War games

Ready for a bracing dose of the storage industry's equivalent to the game Mortal Combat? At Sun Microsystems' recent iForce Partner Summit, executives for the fairly minor storage player told its faithful that from Sun's perspective, hardware rival IBM was "the ground war," software rival Microsoft was "the air war," and big bad storage bully EMC simply had to be "pushed out" of Sun networks.

Now why would the fine folks at Sun, who have no storage products that directly compete with EMC, get so riled up about Solaris-compatible Symmetrix servers that make a lot of storage-hungry Sun customers happy?

Enter Hitachi Data Systems Ltd. (HDS), war paint and all. In the same way that EMC now walks through the doors of previously untapped midmarket customers side by side with OEM partner Dell Computer Corp., HDS has become the storage escort of choice for Sun's tier-one server clients. And a good company stands up for its escort -- particularly now that HDS and EMC have locked horns in a suit-counter-suit legal battle over patents pertaining to one of the few storage technologies that still command top dollar: remote mirroring for business continuity.

Legal woes haven't kept either HDS or EMC from advancing their remote mirroring for business continuity agendas. HDS and Inrange Technologies Corp. have joined forces with a remote mirroring solution that directly challenges EMC and its dominance in the business-continuity solutions market. In essence, HDS will sell Inrange's IN-VSN 9811 director switch optimized to work with TrueCopy, HDS's remote replication software for the Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 storage systems.

The joint deal pays dividends to HDS, Inrange, and customers because it creates a product greater than the sum of its parts, while reducing the number of vendors users must wade through.

Inrange brings multifaceted connectivity options that allow for choosing the most appropriate connection medium and speed, as well as compression algorithms and technology that can smartly allocate heavier data loads where there is more capacity, promising an effective use of the available bandwidth. HDS gets the easier task of tempting customers with improved Lightning systems that support both symmetric and asymmetric mirroring for resilient, multisite storage architectures.

Far from alone, EMC has teamed with heavyweights Oracle Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. to return fire in the form of a fourth-generation blueprint for designing and implementing secure remote data-replication architectures for everything from VPNs to remote-site outsourcing.

Here again, the endgame is simplification for customers who no longer have the time, money, or ambition to piece together the parts that equal true business continuance. Ultimately, the lines drawn in the sand between HDS and EMC, and the winks exchanged by their partners, help reduce the number of options to evaluate.

Got your own war stories? E-mail us at dan_neel@infoworld.com and mario_apicella@infoworld.com.

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